New Zealand has 'won battle' against coronavirus as lockdown eases

27 April 2020, 06:39

Jacinda Ardern the New Zealand Prime Minister will ease the restrictions
Jacinda Ardern the New Zealand Prime Minister will ease the restrictions. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

New Zealand is set to ease some of the strict lockdown rules put into place to help halt the spread of Covid-19.

The island nation's Prime Minister said the country had managed to avoid the worst-case scenario and public health officials would continue to trace the last few cases.

On Monday the country reported five new coronavirus cases with Jacinda Ardern suggesting the country had "won that battle" for now.

“There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way,” she said.

From Tuesday, some non-essential business, healthcare and education activity will be able to resume.

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But officials have warned against complacency. Most people will still be required to remain at home at all time and avoid all social interactions.

Workers will also be able to resume on-site work, provided they have a Covid-19 control plan in place, with appropriate health and safety and physical distancing measures. It is expected one million New Zealanders will return to work on Tuesday.

However, the country's PM warned the public of bringing too many people into expanded family “bubbles”.

“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Ardern said.

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Meanwhile, South Korea is looking at reopening schools as the number of cases begins to tail off.

Authorities reported 10 new cases on Monday, the 26th straight day where this number has been in double figures.

Using an active test-and-quarantine program, South Korea has so far managed to slow its outbreak without imposing lockdowns or business bans.

However, schools have been closed and remote-learning programmes set up in their place.

Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun instructed education officials to prepare measures to ensure hygiene and enforce distance between students at schools so the government could announce a timeline for reopening schools no later than early May.

Authorities in China reported three new cases on Monday and have now gone 12 days without recording a death relating to Covid-19.

The coronavirus outbreak originated from the country, and 723 people remain in hospital suffering from the virus, while a further 1,000 are being kept in isolation.

Beijing added one additional post-mortem death to its count, raising China's overall death toll to 4,633 from 82,830 cases.

Of the new cases, two were imported and one was detected in the province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, according to the National Health Commission.